Ellen Pall grew up seventeen miles east of Manhattan, which would have been a very cool place to grow up.
She fell in love John Donne early in her teens, ditched him for Keats, then surrendered to the English language in general. Wafted west by a Vietnam era adventure (hitch-hiking, hippies, a soon-to-be soldier), she wound up in college at U.C. Santa Barbara. After graduation, she moved to L.A., where she wrote and soon sold a Regency Romance under the pen name Fiona Hill (see “In the Grasp of Romance: My Life as Fiona Hill” in the “Journalism” section, for a published account of this turn of events).
Too many Regencies later, in 1983, she finally shook off Fiona Hill and published a book as Ellen Pall: “Back East,” a contemporary novel about a thirtyish songwriter who falls in love with a very young gay man. Soon afterward, she herself moved back east, settling in Greenwich Village (see “Mothers Lost and Found” for more on a particularly curious aspect of this experience).
There she had the good fortune to begin writing short nonfiction pieces for the Village Voice, the New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review, then longer features about creative people for the Times Arts and Leisure section and, later, the Times Sunday Magazine. In 1996 she published “Among the Ginzburgs,” a novel about a family of grown children who gather for a weekend to reunite with their long-absent father.
New York City also brought Ellen her husband, Richard Dicker, who currently directs the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. Their son is the L.A.-based deejay Pilot (@PilotIsHere).
In 1998, Ellen decided to leave the short deadlines of journalism and return to genre fiction. Her two mysteries, “Corpse de Ballet” and “Slightly Abridged,” both featuring Juliet Bodine (a writer of Regency Romances!), appeared in the early 2000’s.
Her most recent novel, “Likewise,” concerns the crossed paths of four New Yorkers: a writer of mysteries (!); her son, an aspiring artist; his unexpectedly pregnant girlfriend; and a mysterious stranger who turns out to be not so strange. “Likewise” is available as a Kindle e-book and can also be ordered in print from McNally Jackson Books by clicking here.
Ellen also created and administers WhichBookFirst.com (formerly “DebbiesIdea.com”), a free, noncommercial website that helps direct readers to the books that will best introduce a reader to a given writer. All content is user-supplied. If you’re still reading this, I’m betting you’re a lover of books, so please go to www.WhichBookFirst.com, add your own favorite authors, and suggest which of their books a new reader should try first.